What Does It Mean to Be a Congregation of Presence?

Image by Heide Leigh
of UU Church of Ogden

Our theme this month is presence and I am immediately reminded of a saying I learned long ago: The past is gone; the future hasn’t happened yet; and the present is a gift. One of the long playing stories of my life that I frequently tell myself, is how I am on a path to learn how to exist in the here and now. Members of our Chalice Circles this month will discover in their readings the option of thinking of presence in a different way: called capital P – Presence. Here’s a quote from the Soul Matters Packet:

“Spiritually, presence can mean two radically different things. On the one hand, contemplatives talk of “being present.” Presence from this perspective is all about awareness and remembering to “live in the moment.” On the other hand, theologians tend to come at presence from the perspective of “otherness.” Their concern is not just that we pay attention to the present moment, but that we notice a transcendent Presence that is woven through all moments.”

When I read that I was reminded of our 7th principle “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence.” Could it be possible that in the present moment we can feel our connection to the transcendent Presence? I was pondering this question before I went to Adult Religious Exploration last Wednesday night when Rev. Michael Dowd spoke to us about the Nature of Reality. He defines reality as “when you stop believing it and it doesn’t go away.” He is able to hold both nature and religion together, spelling God as Godde and calling her “reality with a personality.” Claiming ecology is the new theology, he speaks about good and evil in terms of our ecological impacts. He encourages us all to do everything with an eye for the future, just as our own UU chalice lighting says “for the generations to come.”

And then I attended our Monthly Freethinking Mystics class last Sunday morning as we continued reading from the book on How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain. This was my third amazing Adult Religious Exploration Class in a week and my head was spinning with new and exciting ideas all swirling about and formulating together to create new neuropathways. After listening to the discussion on the neuroscience of meditation, the class participated in the spiritual practice of meditating together, and for a brief moment I was actually able to feel that transcendent Presence where “otherness” disappeared and I was one with everything. I love being a lifelong learner!

Speaking of otherness disappearing, I wanted to share with you that my upbeat and amazing experience with the police at the Trump Protest Rally a few weeks ago. During the peaceful march, folks were giving the cops thumbs up and flowers and saying :thank you” and “I love you” and I even got to give one female officer a meaningful hand squeeze of mutual respect and appreciation — probably a highlight of my life! Being present with my grief at the election results has been difficult, and participating in this rally was very helpful. I will be coordinating our participation in the “Women’s March on Washington – Washington” on January 21, 2017, the day after inauguration day. Those of us that are interested can all take the bus up to Seattle and march as a group. Wear your Standing On The Side Of Love t-shirts, if you have one.


Our weekly Wednesday Night drop-in class will be on a holiday break for the next two weeks. We will resume programs on Wednesday, January 4th.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 – Ecology is the New Theology

Using material from  Rev. Michael Dowd, we will continue the conversation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 – Winter Feast for the Soul

Winter Feast for the Soul is a 40-day spiritual practice of stillness. Every year since 2008, individuals worldwide have been participating in this event which runs from January 15 through February 23. In this class we will share the inspirational quotes from the a previous Winter Feast for the Soul, and show you how to participate for 2017.

January 18th – Matters of Soul and Spirit

Join us for a monthly deep dive into our Soul Matters theme of the month, led by Ministerial Intern, Matt Aspin, and explore how the theme relates to evolving and expanding our individual and community spiritual maturity. Matt Aspin will lead a program on our monthly theme of “What Does It Mean to Be a Community of Prophecy?” woven with the concept of “Willingness to offer Leadership and Service” from UU Minister, Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons’ work, “Qualities of Spiritual Maturity”.

Whether or not you participate in a monthly Chalice Circle that explores the monthly theme, or if you simply want to explore one theme more deeply, this series of ten evenings will give you an opportunity to delve into what matters to your soul and spirit. Attend any topic that intrigues you, or join us for the entire series with Matt Aspin.

Susie Maharry, TUUC
Susie Maharry
Director of Adult Religious Exploration